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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Develop a plan to become a more seasoned recycler

Terri Bennett McClatchy

Do you ever feel guilty when you put something in the trash because you don’t feel like walking to the recycling bin? Do you toss food scraps in with the other garbage? If you said yes, you’re not alone. Only a third of the trash that could be recycled or composted actually is. No wonder the average household trashcan is always overflowing! That means we can all do a bit better. I want to share some simple techniques to Do Your Part and put your recycling routine on steroids.

How did my own family go from being casual recyclers into caped crusaders for recycling? First, I made a list of all the items we use regularly in our home that could be recycled and posted the list prominently. Then, my family and I discussed our plan of attack. We decided that we could make it just as easy to recycle as it was to toss things in the trash.

To make it as convenient as possible, we placed a collection container everywhere in the house where recyclables are typically generated. Common places are kitchens, bathrooms and home offices. We placed boxes under every desk to collect paper. A container went into each bathroom because virtually everything that comes out of the bathroom is recyclable, from toothbrushes, to soap boxes, to shampoo bottles. And of course, our biggest recycling bin went in the kitchen. Every week or two, we empty these containers into our main recycling collection bin.

Then there are the items that we should recycle but often don’t because they can’t be put in the curbside bin. The list includes fluorescent light bulbs, electronics and household waste like old paints and pesticides. These items can contain toxic materials and should never be dumped in a landfill. Visit for help finding solutions to even the trickiest recycling problems where you live.

So now, what about all the food we trash every week? It might make you sick to your stomach to find out that’s what does happen to about a third of the food we buy. There’s a way to recycle those scraps too and the result is free fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Composting doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. Watch our short video on how to get started at